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Jan 19, 2009

45,000 to be laid off over Chinese New Year in Malaysia

Over 45,000 factory workers face the prospect of being temporarily laid off during the Chinese New Year period due to falling demand, said Human Resources minister Datuk S. Subramaniam said.

"During the period, the factories will be on holiday for two to three weeks and workers have been asked to take leave. Some are on paid leave, and some on no-pay leave," he said today.

Explaining that the lay-offs are due to a drop in orders, he said the factories felt that if they did not operate for two or three weeks, they could reduce their output and solve the issue of declining orders.

Subramaniam said the government was watching the situation closely. "We have opened 80 centres nationwide to monitor the problem; at the same time, we are trying to find information on available vacancies. As at Jan 12, there are 15,000 vacancies registered with the ministry, and those who have been forced to stop work in one field can find work in other areas," he said.

The government will help job-seekers find jobs, he told a press conference after opening an agriculture seminar and workshop at Universiti Malaya.

Subramaniam also said the government was considering the proposed pension plan for private sector retirees to overcome the problem of needy senior citizens.

"There are many facing financial difficulties, especially in the private sector. After they retire at 55, they receive an EPF payment of RM33,000. However, the money is all spent within a year or two," he said.

He said one source of the problem was the breakdown of the traditional extended family.

"Normally, they depend on their children to look after them, but this does not happen today. This creates a situation where
poverty exists among senior citizens and they are forced to turn to the welfare department and Socso for assistance with the hope of qualifying for invalidity pension," he said.

He said that more than 80% of applicants for the disability pension did not qualify.

He expects the problem to get worse. "The lifespan of Malaysians is increasing to about 70 to 75 years. We need to ensure that they have financial freedom. The question is, how do we do that," said Subramaniam.

Source : TheSunDaily
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